South Florida Hospital News
Wednesday September 30, 2020
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September 2020 - Volume 17 - Issue 3
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Broward Health Taking Necessary Measures to Help Ensure the Safety of the South Florida Community

South Florida has been designated a COVID-19 hotspot, and regional health systems have risen to the challenge presented by the virus. Broward Hospital anticipated the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic and began preparing for COVID-19 and its spread throughout the community early in 2020.

"We were concerned because it came on fast, but I can't even begin to tell you how incredibly impressed I’ve been with how it's been handled by people who are, at this point, overworked, stressed, and working more hours than they ever planned on working while not seeing their families,” says Nancy Gregoire, Chairwoman of North Broward Hospital District Board of Commissioners. “They are truly heroes, and I can't emphasize that enough.”
 
Former Chairman and current Commissioner Ray Berry agrees, “All the hospitals in the system had their own unique challenges. But they, like all the hospitals in South Florida, rose to the occasion and have been taking care of people. We've been handling the surge.”
 
The ripple effects from COVID-19 will be felt for years at Broward Health, according to Gregoire.
 
“We're a tax-supported hospital system,” she says. “Although our resources are being strained under the worst circumstances imaginable, we’re doing fine. As we're dealing with the COVID crisis, we're also unveiling new technology, new equipment, and new facilities. For instance, Broward Health Coral Springs just opened a new cardiac catheterization lab. When you're dealing with the worst of all possible worlds, there's that bright shining light that makes you happy, and capital improvements such as the cath lab are that for us.”
 
Broward Health has been active in educating and engaging the community on COVID-19 by providing educational resources, pandemic response efforts, and available screening options through flyers and social media. Its caregivers have screened thousands of community members through mobile testing sites, which were each built in under 24 hours. Broward Health now offers walk-up and pediatric testing at its Annie L. Weaver test site.
 
In addition, Broward Health expanded advanced telemedicine technology through its physician practices to protect medical providers and help ensure that patients are continually monitored. A free Nurse Connect service is available 24/7 for clinical questions and has answered over 8,000 calls related to COVID-19. This service also enables community members without primary care physicians to obtain scripts for testing.
 
Educating the community has also been an important component to Broward Health’s strategy.
 
“Our chief nursing officer, chief medical officer, and chief pharmaceutical officer were constantly on the news explaining the importance of protection and how everybody has to be responsible for safety measures, such as the use of face masks and social distancing,” says Gregoire. “We're reaching out to churches, schools, community centers, non-profits – to the extent we can – to distribute masks to members of the community who may be more at risk.”
 
In addition, ten hospitals in South Florida – Baptist Health South Florida, Broward Health, Cleveland Clinic Florida, HCA East Florida, Jackson Health System, Memorial Healthcare System, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Nicklaus Children’s Health System, Tenet Health, and University of Miami Health System – have united to amplify an important message to the public: “Together we are stronger. And together we can make a difference.”
 
Together, they launched an integrated marketing campaign to spread the message about the importance of hand washing, mask wearing, and social distancing. Information on where to get the appropriate care for COVID-19 symptoms – a virtual health visit, an urgent care center, or a hospital emergency room – was also included.
 
“It’s a really good, focused, educational campaign,” adds Berry. “These health systems felt that it was important to have a unified message. Typically, these other systems are our competitors, but for this crisis, there is no competition. The idea is to protect the community. These initiatives, so far, have resulted in lower death percentages of those infected.”
 
As far as the anticipated second outbreak expected in the fall and winter, Gregoire is confident that Broward Health can withstand any future surges.
 
“Broward Health is going to be one of the leaders, one of the frontline entities,” says Gregoire. "We have a dashboard that shows us the outbreaks, the particular zip codes where the outbreaks are more likely, the ages of those involved, the severity of the risk, and the impact on the system – ventilators and isolation rooms. We’re participating in virtual meetings twice a week with corporate administration and the administration of every single hospital to report on their numbers and their equipment a week in advance.”
 
Berry credits leadership and the clinical staff with managing the crisis so effectively.
 
“I have never been so impressed with everybody. We had nobody in our system running away from this,” he says. “They all ran to it. They stood there knowing there was a risk to themselves and put themselves in harm's way. Our caregivers put their lives at risk to help others.”

For more information, visit BrowardHealth.org.

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